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Electronic cigarette safety

Electronic cigarettes are devices intended to simulate the act of tobacco smoking. Consumers and suppliers should read the following to learn more about the health risks of using e-cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated, electronic devices for making mists for inhalation that simulate the act of tobacco smoking. They are also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

Electronic cigarettes are sometimes marketed as a tobacco replacement. These cigarettes and cartridges (containing flavour and other chemicals) can be found for retail sale in Australia.  However, in some states and territories, it is illegal to sell any product that is designed to resemble a tobacco product.

Nicotine intended for therapeutic use is covered in Schedule 4 of the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.   If the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) assesses any nicotine cartridges for safety, quality and efficacy, the product would only be available by prescription.

If liquid nicotine is imported for uses other than therapeutic, it is a 'Schedule 7 Poison' in the SUSMP.  In this case, it is considered a substance that may cause harm and requires special precautions in manufacture, handling or use.  Other substances listed in Schedule 7 include chlorine and arsenic. 

The state and territory governments have responsibility for regulating dangerous poisons. In all states and territories, the retail sale of nicotine is an offence unless a permit has been issued by the relevant state or territory authority.

In some states and territories, obtaining, purchasing, possessing and/or using nicotine without a permit is an offence.

For details, contact the relevant state or territory health agency.

Safety information for consumers

Unlike Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products, which have been rigorously assessed by the TGA for safety, quality and efficacy, no assessment of electronic cigarettes has been undertaken. The quality and safety of electronic cigarettes is not known.

Information for suppliers

Under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA), suppliers of consumer goods such as electronic cigarettes are responsible for ensuring the products they supply are safe, fit for purpose and comply with all applicable legal requirements. Potential suppliers of e-cigarettes should ensure that e-cigarettes, as well as the chemicals that their users are exposed to, are safe before they market the product.

The CCA also requires that all representations or claims made in relation to the supply of consumer goods are truthful. There are significant penalties for making misleading, deceptive or false claims in trade or commerce. Suppliers may also be liable for any loss or injury incurred from defective goods that they have supplied.

Suppliers should be also aware of their mandatory reporting responsibilities. Suppliers are required to report any serious injury, illness or death associated with consumer goods that they have supplied in Australia within two days of becoming aware of a reportable incident. A supplier who fails to fulfil this mandatory requirement may be found guilty of an offence and be liable for a penalty of up to $16,500 for a body corporate or $3,300 for a person other than a body corporate for each offence. View the Mandatory reporting section for more information.

Further information

More information on electronic cigarettes can be found at:

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